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When you go to a place like Aspen Highlands, you have to hike the Bowl. Sure, the top of it rises to a lung-crushing 12,392 feet and the 20-to-45-minute (depending on how good of shape you’re in) bootpack may kill your quads, but the bowl drops over 3,500 vertical feet of wide-open powder fields back to the Deep Temerity lift, and that makes it all worthwhile. To make it easier getting up the bootpack, we asked a Highlands ski patroller to give us a demonstration of the ski-carrying strap they sell. Click to the next slide for tips on how to use the strap.
If you’re at Aspen Highlands, ride to the top of the Deep Temerity or Loge lift, and head toward the ski patrol shack. Go inside. Ask to buy one of their ski-carry straps, made specifically for bootpacking inbounds when you’re not carrying a backpack. They cost $8 and the proceeds go directly to the ski patrol fund. You can also buy one of the straps turned into a belt for $10. We asked patroller Peter Woodward to show us how to use them. First, hold your skis up or set them down on the snow. Open the strap like so, setting one end of the loop above the toe piece of your binding and one below.
Next, loop the strap around the ski so it creates what looks like two backpack straps on one side.
If the loop is too loose, wrap the straps around again. This technique is specifically for wearing it diagonally over your head and shoulders and under one arm. This is easier than wearing it like backpack straps, since the ski won’t be vertical and you won’t kick the bottom of your skis on every step. But if you’re more comfortable wearing it like a backpack and carrying your skis vertically, tuck the top strap under the toe piece of your binding (shown here) and the bottom strap below the heelpiece.
Once you’ve secured the straps, throw it over your head like a messanger bag.
Here’s Peter showing the finished result. Now you can head up the bootpack with just your poles in your hands.
The best part about these straps (which you can buy for $8 at the Aspen Highlands ski patrol shack) is that you can use them for other purposes. Leash your dog, use it as a tow rope to pull a car out of a ditch, strap a travel ski bag onto the roof of your rental car, or make a clothesline to hang your wet gear on a hut trip.